Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chuck Porter, CP+B, StrawberryFrog, TAXI oh my! Voting for AdweekMedia Best of The Decade.

It seems like Y2K was only yesterday. I recall the fear and anxiety of the world coming to a computer decelerated doom, yet we survived.

A short nine years later we are looking at the end of the first decade. And man what a decade.
A couple of presidential elections that changed America forever.  The worst terrorist attacks in American history. The War on Terror Part 1 - Afghanistan Invasion, Part Two War on Terror - Iraqi Invasion and the tragic 2004 Tsunami that killed 500,000 people,  the concept of global warming is no longer a debate and has now changed to the "global climate change" argument,  oil prices are at record highs and that's just a few things off the front pages of news. How about the way we live and communicate. WOW! From a cellphone the size of half pound of butter to ones we can carry in our pockets to the BlackBerry's and the iPhones that just about do it all, a music player that can carry my entire CD collection (no kidding I have 14,334 songs on my iPod) and it all changes everyday.

In December, the editors at AdWeekMedia will select the best marketing, media and agency performances of the decade, covering 2000 through 2009, in 33 categories. These choices surround the people, companies, brands, products and creative work that most influenced the industry and came to define the era. It could not have been easy for the editors to make these lists, as I am sure it won't be easy to place a single vote in any one category.

For me and certainly many of current and past students there a two people and one company that stands above all. It's hard to single them out but they have been generous with their time, advise and commitment. They are Chuck Porter and Alex Bogusky. Whether in New York during AdWeek or here in Toronto, both have given more then their vast knowledge and experience but more importantly their time. As an agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky has also provided the students of our Creative Advertising program at Seneca College with curriculum advise, portfolio reviews and recently a live feedback with the rest of the world via Fearless Q&A. Okay, I can now see my mailbox fill with many of the others who so graciously give of their time and energy, but it's a vote... go ahead and see for yourself, it ain't gonna be easy.

In Toronto last year during AdWeek '09, Chuck Porter spread his gospel of "power of a story" and how it can become and is sometimes be larger than life. With examples like Burger King’s Subservient Chicken, which has become a cult following first in the US and then around in places like Spain and Japan long after the site had its heyday.

Chuck shared the message that it’s not always about a new making or finding a medium. For Molson, a beer brand from Canada, he told the story of how CP+B took the age-old media of print magazines and placed ads in Cosmopolitan, Maxim with cheesy 80’s style male models with puppy dogs, and Molson Beer, then placed ads in male-targeted magazines about the psychographic effect of 100,000’s of women having a positive association of the male species due to these ads. The creative implementation of both real and faux ads and even made-up magazine covers placed on the back-cover of real magazines was all done brilliantly with a huge comedic and viral impact. It told the simple story of beer, men and their relationships. Men are from Mars and women are indeed from Venus. The campaign placed Molson as leader in the import beer market. Porter also shared the story of the difficulty of selling a risky idea to Burger King and their franchise owners who wanted to kill Porter if he implemented an idea about killing their best selling product – The Whopper.  The campaign called the “BK Whopper Freakout.” That recommendation not only won new customers for BK but added to the power of the concept of story telling, the result turned out to be wildly successful.

What needs to be said about Alex Bogusky that hasn't already been said. Plain and simply, he is one of the smartest and funniest people this business has seen in the past decade. Humble, is not a trait found often in this business either.

Last year when Alex achieved an accomplishment that any Art Director would only dream of, he took his place in the Art Directors Hall of Fame in New York. I emailed him congratulations and to share any thoughts he might have with my students. His reply was simple: 

Thanks. It’s a great honor. Shocking actually. 

A friend of mine reminded me of a conversation we had when Lee Clow went into the Hall of Fame. He asked me if I remembered what I said and i didn’t even remember the conversation. But he said I remarked that getting in the Hall of Fame was the ultimate achievement yet totally unattainable. I guess I was wrong. Again.  

But I will quietly admit that this sort of thing doesn’t really sit well with my sense of community and my connection with everybody I’ve ever worked with. I’m obviously not alone in a single thing I ever did. We did it all together and to be singled out isn’t right. 

I worry too that it continues to perpetuate this idea of singular achievement. Which to me it a potentially destructive way to look at the world. I’ll accept it for CPB but not for myself and I’ll accept it for all the people who supported all the hair brain schemes and plans we’ve had over the years.  

Alex remains the same today as the first time I made his acquaintance in New York back in 2007, smart, honest, humble and giving. He has remains someone I can turn to with questions and concerns about the future of my students and the ideas I have for my advertising program. He is genuine grateful for the passion young AdLanders have, sending me a simple email to say thanks for all their questions and portfolios submitted by my students for a recent episode of his webcast Fearless Q&A.

Another category that seems to have caught my eye was the Best Small Agency. What caught my eye was the fact that Strawberry Frog was missing. How? How do you leave off StrawberryFrog and for that matter Scott Goodson a visionary that has redefined the agency model first in Amsterdam and now in New York, San Paulo and soon Mumbai. His concept of "Cultural Movements" has spread around the world. A complex idea for brands to identify, crystallize, and lead a cultural movement that will inspire people to belong and mobilize. Scott has hosted my students in his New York offices where he shared his vision and changed forever their approach to how they will approach client problems while making a difference for the brand and the community. One of my favorite campaigns Scott shared with my students was for Scion. Brilliance and redefining of how a brand can create a "cultural movement".

It is also difficult not to want to cast a vote for Canada's Taxi Advertising. Without question the agency that has shaped the creative revolution in Canada and has proven it can run wiht the big dogs in the USA and now expanding into Europe. Between Paul Lavoie, Jane Pope, Steve Mykolyn, Rob Guenette and former partner Zak Mroueh (now Zulu Alpha Kilo) paved the way for winning more awards then any Canadian agency on the worls stage. Hard choice for me personally.

Like any good campaign seeking out a vote from the public, here is my best effort to urge you go and VOTE!

AdWeek has narrowed down each category to a handful of top candidates. Write-ins are permitted. Use the links below to jump to specific categories, or start here to vote on them all.

For your consideration:

Agency of the Decade: Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Agency Executive of the Decade: Chuck Porter
Agency Creative Director of the Decade: Alex Bogusky
Small Agency of the Decade: This is your place for a write-in vote for StrawberryFrog or Canada's Taxi

No comments:

TNB | Distributed by Deluxe Templates